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Army deadline expires, grand operation expected against Chotoo gang

Forces kill LeJ militants linked to Quetta police attack

LAHORE: The district administration of Rajanpur is ‘alert’ in anticipation of a full-scale operation by the military as a Monday afternoon deadline to the gangsters to surrender unconditionally and release policemen held as hostages expired.

The Army had given the Chotoo gang until 2pm on Monday to surrender, police officials speaking on condition of anonymity had told media.

In case they refused to abide by the deadline, the Army said it will begin a full-scale operation, the official added.

Corps Commander II Corps Maj Gen Ishfaq Nadeem chaired a high-level meeting in Rajanpur on Monday and took stock of the situation before leaving, an official said, adding that an emergency has been imposed in hospitals in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur.

Rajanpur DCO Zahoor Hussain Gujjar, while talking to media, confirmed that an emergency had been imposed at all hospitals in and around the area. “We are alert,” he said, adding that the official leaves of Rajanpur district government employees had been cancelled.

The officials have been directed to remain at their places of duty until further notice in order to take on any untoward situation in the aftermath of the expected operation, he said.

At least six policemen were killed and 24 others taken hostage by the gang when the operation was launched less than a week ago.

Source on Monday said that the gang had released some of the hostages, but the source was unable to say how many had been freed.

A senior police officer associated with the operation told media that the gang was using their hostages as a human shield to protect their women and children, said to be 250 to 300 in number.

Chotoo had earlier put pressure on the families of policemen in his captivity to hold protests calling for an end to the operation against the gang.

“He threatened to start killing the captives one by one in case of non-compliance,” the official said.

The official said the gangsters had called the family members of each captive from different phone numbers.

The families reached Jampur on Saturday, blocking the Indus Highway for traffic in protest, demanding safe recovery of their loved ones from captivity, he said, adding that the protesters were dispersed after senior Army and police officials negotiated with them, assuring them of the safe return of the captive policemen.

 






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